We’ve worked with well over a thousand CrossFit® coaches across the globe. We speak with coaches daily about their goals and their struggles. These dialogues have offered us unique insights what works and doesn’t work in the fitness coaching as it relates to CrossFit®.
Inside all of these conversations we’ve discovered the top six common problems CrossFit® Coaches face as well as how to overcome these challenges.
You go after the wrong clients
Many CrossFit Gyms and coaches utilize free trials or low membership prices in an effort to acquire more clients. While this strategy does get more clients into the system, it brings the wrong type of clients into your system. People who enter your gym through low price offerings typically aren’t going to be very well aligned with your beliefs or view of fitness.
This massive influx of the wrong type of clientele ultimately drains you business system, your coaches, your current recurring clients and yourself. These practices dilute your gyms services, not enhance it.
Don’t get lost in the idea that more clients today will help you reach your business goals.
You need to spend time today determining who the best clients are for your fitness services. This leads to a stronger message, better results, and a proper platform to run your business.
Create a vision: Understand who you are and define your business., otherwise you will consistently reach out to the wrong ‘type’ of client.
Identify your ideal client: Take the time, do your research, and determine what type of client aligns with your vision. You shouldn’t have to price down your gym services in order to find them.
Market to those ideal clients: If you market that you have the “lowest price in the city” do you think that you will sign up clients who will be loyal when a cheaper option opens up next door?
Not a chance. Marketing to your ideal client will not only preserve your brand identity but it will also make it easier for the ideal client to find you.
Deliver to those ideal clients: If you claim to be the best gym in the city, then consider
these two points:
1. how can you prove it?
2 what are you doing to ensure that you actually deliver that quality?
It’s a cliche because it’s completely true. Actions speak louder than words.
Your WOD’s Aren’t Designed Effectively
When you walk into the gym everyday and write the workout on the board, do you KNOW how your clients will respond?
Let’s take “Fran” for example, after running a group through the workout, is everyone lying on the ground coughing in pain? Or, when you look around are some only slightly sweating and are already putting their weights away? The challenge is that each person responds differently to all workouts depending on their muscle endurance, mechanical ability, strength, skill, speed or capacity. In the case of Fran, the workout was originally designed to simulate a 2 minute gymnastics ring routine that left them gasping for air. So, if you are wanting to test your clients in a 2 minute time domain, is Fran really the right test?
Most CrossFit Coaches have no understanding of how to program an effective and targeted Workout of the Day. Much of this has to do with the manner in which they were taught in the Level 1 CrossFit Certification courses. They simply were not taught how to program workouts in a way that tackled the various energy systems.
Everytime you create a workout, it needs to have a purpose. Constantly varied functional fitness movements performed at high intensity does not imply that you slam random movements and time domains together.
Determine the purpose of your workout: Are you testing or are you training a
specific fitness domain: endurance, strength, stamina, speed, power, coordination, etc.
Design a workout with a specific response in mind: If you’re trying to test
a client’s 2 minute capacity to tolerate pain and they can go unbroken in thrusters and
pull ups, prescribe Fran. If your client is not proficient in either of those movements,
prescribing 21-15-9 of slam balls and no push up burpees may be a better test for that
Reflect: Constantly evaluate and refine your programing to ensure that your clients are
progressing, avoiding injuring and getting results.
You Don’t Coach Nutrition or Lifestyle
Training is a very small part of the journey to health and fitness. If you were to calculate how much time a client typically spends in a gym compared to everything else they do weekly, the gym only constitutes 3% of their total time commitment each week. This leaves 97% of their life unaccounted for.
This is where nutrition coaching and lifestyle coaching come into play.
Your clients originally came to you for results. They had some goal in mind and they believed that you could help them reach it. When you sat down with them to discuss how your program could get them there did you casually mention nutrition or did you lay out a specific plan? Did you offer any lifestyle guidance and advice?
Nutrition plays a very important role in someone looking and feeling better as well as their performance. If you cannot address the nutrition or lifestyle side of the equation your clients may not reach their goals.
It is a mistake to believe that a client will implement your nutrition or lifestyle advice if you have never had a conversation with them and truly understand where they are starting from. Every person has different goals, unique metabolic systems, and changing lifestyles. If you are giving “one-size-fits all” advice or running challenges because you don’t have knowledge on nutrition you will lose both credibility and clients.
Discuss nutrition and lifestyle from the start: Make nutrition and lifestyle part of the initial consult. Find out exactly what they ate the last couple days, and ask them how they feel after they eat, during training and throughout the day/night. You should also ask about their levels of stress throughout the day as well as their daily habits and if they thoroughly chew their food. By doing this you will connect the role nutrition and lifestyle plays with the results they desire.
Create a plan and accountability: Give them a simple plan that sets them up for
success and adjust it when necessary. Create a system to check-in with them and hold
them accountable. You will see far better results with a phased nutrition plans and lifestyle guidelines, instead of drastic changes or 30-day challenges that they won’t be able to stick to long-term.
Keep educating: Educate yourself and your clients on nutrition and lifestyle guidelines. The more you understand lifestyle and nutrition, the more likely you are to get them results. When you get your clients results you create trust and lasting relationships.
You Don’t Connect With Your Clients
Do you know what’s important to you and why you are a coach? Why do you wake up early, stay up late? Why haven’t taken a vacation in over 2 years? Are you aware of your clients and their priorities?
Your priorities in life can lead to biases which can have an impact on your ability to communicate and align with your clients. Who is your ideal client is and which ones do you seem to always butt heads with?
Have you ever noticed you can say one thing to one person and get great results and then completely lose another client with that same communication? Clients respond different to different forms of communication and a lack of understanding If you don’t understand yourself as a coach and you are not really sure why your clients have come to you or what they are hoping to gain, there will alway be a disconnect.
Emotionally and empathetically connecting with your clients is an important aspect of what makes a successful coach. It allows for excellent communication and encourages positive changes in your clients.
Pay attention: Listen to what your clients are really telling you. Take them through a specific path to see what they actually consider priorities. Over time you should make it your goal to understand why your clients are at your facility and what working out really means to them.
Recognize your biases: Just because you are passionate about fitness and being healthy doesn’t necessarily mean your clients are. They may have joined a gym to look and feel better and that always aligns with how you see it. Pressuring clients to do things that do not align with their goals and priorities is not effective and may even harm your relationship with them. Learn to recognize where your priorities lie and how that bias may be keeping you from framing fitness in a way that inspires and aligns them to succeed.
Your ‘Assessment’ Isn’t Really an Assessment
Soccer mom, business executive, ex-football player, college student, each of these potential clients have different backgrounds, training ages and lifestyles. Yet, you put them through the same ‘On Ramp’ or ‘Foundations program’ when they first start.
You examine their air squat, their pushup and pullup capabilities, teach them the basics of barbell work and then run them through a short workout to test their aerobic capacity. Then, like magic, they are ready to join in your regular CrossFit classes…not so fast.
What if one of those people just started an exercise program they can’t do any of those movements, what further information are you gathering to know where to start them. What if they’ve been training for 15 years and came to you to get over a plateau again where do they start? However, without fully understanding where they are starting you will have a hard time getting them the results they want, leaving them dissatisfied and uncommitted to your gym.
Every client needs a unique assessment. This gives the coach insight into where the client is starting from and where their program design needs to take them in order to fulfill the clients goals.
Have a purpose: Looking at a client’s air squat technique and putting them through “3 rounds for time” is not a true assessment. The purpose of assessment is to get a thorough understanding of where your client is beginning by gathering data. You should be gathering data about their individual capabilities and basic movement ability.
Use the data: After you have done a proper assessment, don’t let it go to waste. Actually incorporate that data within your program development for that client. Regularly check back and take notes to see how far they have come and what challenges/restrictions they are facing.
Let the results speak for themselves: When you really take the time to fully assess and understand where each client is starting and create a plan based around data, you are on your way to getting clients the results they want. Those results are a key factor in retention considering that is what most clients are paying for.
You Have No Career Trajectory
A lot of CrossFit Coaches feel trapped and stagnant in their fitness career. Most CrossFit coaches have part-time jobs with poor compensation at their local affiliates without a path towards a fulfilling full time career in the industry that they love.
In order to escape this vicious cycle you need to further your education and become a master of the whole landscape of fitness coaching.
Apply for the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program: The OPEX Coaching Certificate Program, also referred to as CCP, is the most comprehensive fitness coaching course on the market. Participants in this program master principles of program design, nutrition, assessment, consultation, as well as business topics. You will be given all the resources you need to pursue a career in the competitive fitness industry.
8 Reasons to Try Indoor Rowing
As outdoor workouts become relegated to the weekend and your body requires a reprieve from repeated long rides or runs, a fresh training method could become a welcome change to your training schedule. Enter: indoor rowing.
As the heir apparent to the reigning king of group fitness classes, indoor cycling, indoor rowing is poised to become the country’s newest workout obsession, as rowing studios continue to pop up throughout the country.
If you’re looking to supplement your training regime, consider this full-body workout. Here are eight reasons you should try indoor rowing:
1. It Burns a High Amount of Calories
Harvard Medical School states that a 155-pound person rowing at a vigorous pace can burn more than 600 calories per hour. This is on par with mountain and BMX biking.
2. Rowing Removes Muscular Failings
“Endurance runners and cyclists tend to have many muscular deficiencies that lead to repetitive stress injuries,” says Richard Butler, a UCanRow2 Concept2 indoor rowing coach at Mecka Fitness in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He believes rowing can offset this propensity. “When we row, we use more than 86% of our muscles. [It’s] tough to have deficient muscles using that many muscles.”
3. Rowing Circumvents Compensation
“While running and cycling, it is also very easy to become quad-dominant (overusing your anterior muscles),” says Dustin Hogue, interval studio director of Studio Three in Chicago. “Rowing counteracts this by engaging the posterior muscles of your body: the hamstrings, glutes and back. This helps avoid compensations.”
4. It Burns Fat
In a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, which compared fat oxidation in rowing to cycling across a range of variables — including exercise intensity, mode and recruited muscle mass — rowing beat out cycling. This was specifically due to the greater recruitment of larger muscle mass on the ergometer.
5. It’s a Two-For-One Workout
Rowing works both the upper and lower extremities in synchronicity. “It’s one of the true full-body workouts,” says Butler. He says when done properly, in one continuous movement, athletes use their back, arms, legs and core.
6. There’s a Meditative Component
According to UCanRow2, an organization with a mission to bring rowing to people across the U.S., rowing indoors keeps the mind centered and helps relieve stress as you get into a rhythm with each stroke.
7. Classes Teach You Proper Technique
Most people have either never rowed or row with incorrect, gawky posture — curtailing rowing’s proper returns. But participating in indoor rowing classes diminishes the inelegance and instructors help you perfect your position. “That awkward feeling of not knowing how to do a move is minimized,” says Butler.
8. It Decreases the Risk of Injuries
For those who recently suffered an injury and feel a little apprehensive getting back into high-impact sports (like running), but feel ready to get back into cardiovascular shape, rowing is a favorable alternative. “Running causes a great deal of stress on the leg joints, so rowing is perfect for avoiding injury while endurance training,” says Butler.
As with any group fitness class, rowing classes vary by studio and instructor. “A typical rowing class at Studio Three pairs bursts of short, anaerobic exercises, with active recovery periods and weighted resistance training,” says Hogue. “Athletes perform a series, or distance or timed pushes on the rower along with multi-joint strength movements off of the rower.” At ROWFit by Mecka Fitness, Butler teaches authentic, crew rowing techniques to increase endurance and train all major muscles. At the popular Row House NYC in New York City instructors encourage participants to row in sync with each other, simulating a real crew team.
Whatever class you choose, all indoor rowing classes focus on providing low-impact, high-energy workouts, helping you elevate your heart rate and building strength as a complement to any endurance training regime.
If you’re interested in indoor rowing, you can find a certified instructor at UCanRow2 and even become certified yourself.
In Training, Consistency Is the Key to Your Fitness Goals
Consistency is arguably the most important component when working to accomplish goals, in or out of the gym. Without consistency, programs are unorganized, the body has a harder time adapting, and forming habits may be more challenging.
Build and Follow Workout Programming
Whatever your goals may be, they require a consistent level of training for you to reach them. One way to ensure consistency within the scope of your goals is to build a program. Programs make it much easier to stay on track because you won’t have to think about what you’re going to do at the gym today—it’s already written out. Most programs are designed to be followed for a set amount of time, typically about 4 weeks. Depending on the desired goal, the program will have a different focus—hypertrophy, endurance, strength, and so on. Each day is designed with the goal in mind, while ensuring that you are training in a way that minimizes imbalances within the body. If you aren’t following the program consistently, the chance of it working is reduced.
Theoretically, if you have a program and you don’t follow it, the body is not going to be able to adapt to the program because there isn’t an opportunity for progressive overload, which is when the amount of stress on the body is gradually increased over time, leading to increased strength and performance.
Work Toward Adaptations
Biologically, a lot of things happen in the body during exercise. Over time these reactions change the body to become stronger, grow, or run more efficiently. Different factors affect adaptations in everyone, so it’s impossible to predict when these changes will occur. But being consistent with training will increase the likelihood of seeing adaptations sooner.
Different modes of exercise elicit different adaptations. Endurance training will produce different changes than resistance training. While there are far too many adaptations to discuss in this blog, a few examples reported by the CDC include the following:
Improved ability of muscles to use fat as energy Stronger ligaments and tendons Increased VO2 max and lactate threshold Increased number of capillaries in muscles Cardiac muscle hypertrophy Increased force production
Each of these changes is beneficial for different scenarios. The body is either becoming more efficient or stronger, or performance is enhanced. However, these long-term benefits are seen only after consistent training over a period of time.
We are creatures of habit. The more we practice something, the more natural it becomes. We experience this when we learn to walk as babies, when we learn to drive, and when we exercise. It’s normal to feel out of your element when you try something new, but the more you do it, the more comfortable you feel.
Current research suggests that to make a habit stick it must be performed for 68 consecutive days. The idea of sticking with something brand new for 68 days may feel overwhelming for some people. When taking on a new challenge, focusing on taking it day by day might be a helpful mindset. Yes, we might be aiming to create a lifelong habit; however, thinking about just starting a habit to last for years could seem daunting. Start by doing it for one day, and then two, and then three, and so on.
Once you feel comfortable with one small change, add another small change, and so on. Small changes are more sustainable over the long term and add up to form new habits. There will likely be days that your plan doesn’t work out how it was supposed to, but that doesn’t mean all progress is lost.
Our bodies adapt gradually to exercise. In the end, consistency will help you reach your goals. Without it, you might not have enough structure to allow for growth. Work first on figuring out your goals, determine the best route to achieve them, and get started with one step. If you’re not sure how to get started, the trainers at NIFS can help you set goals and develop programs tailored to those goals.
This blog was written by Hannah Peters, BS, CPT, Health Fitness Instructor. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.
13 Things You Need to Know Before Starting a Weightlifting Program
Weightlifting is straightforward in theory (you just, erm…lift weights, right?). But it’s a bit more complicated in practice. As a beginner to weightlifting, it’s confusing (not to mention intimidating) to figure out which muscles to target, how much to lift, and how often to work out. How are you supposed to know where to even begin with finding a good weightlifting program?
Although it might seem daunting at first, the benefits of lifting weights far outweigh any hurdles you might have to getting started. William P. Kelley, C.S.C.S, ATC, says some major benefits of weightlifting include improved strength, bone density, and heart health. Studies even suggest that it can help keep your brain sharp, as well as increase energy levels and decrease stress.
Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., Beachbody’s senior manager of fitness and nutrition content, notes that lifting weights is also an effective way to lose weight: “Weightlifting can help you lose fat faster than steady state cardio because it keeps your metabolism elevated for longer post workout,” he explains. “The result is that it helps you burn more total calories.”
But before you get to enjoy all the benefits of lifting weights, you first have to get started. The first step? Creating smart goals.
What Are Your Weightlifting Goals?
“Goal-setting is critical to guiding your weightlifting path,” Kelley says. Before you even choose a weightlifting program, consider what you want to get out of it. Are you training for a specific event, for general health, or with aesthetics in mind? Do you want to lose weight, build strength, pack on muscle, or achieve a combination of any or all three of those goals?
“Each objective requires a different strategy, and by identifying your goal or goals, you can identify the most effective training program to achieve it,” Thieme says. The tips below will help you do that.
If you need some extra guidance to help you get started, check out Beachbody On Demand’s weightlifting programs, like Body Beast (which focuses on muscle building) and A Week of Hard Labor (an intense, five-day weightlifting routine). Both programs can help you achieve the lean, muscular physique you’ve always dreamed of building. (See the results for yourself!)
13 Common Questions About Starting a Weightlifting Program
These 13 questions and answers will give you the information you need to start lifting weights, including basic training tips and mistakes to avoid.
1. What equipment do I need for a weightlifting program?
If you’re starting an at-home weightlifting program, dumbbells are a necessity — but having just a single pair may not cut it.
Thieme says you need different weights to effectively challenge different muscle groups. Your legs should be able to handle heavier weights than your triceps, for example. That’s why he recommends investing in a pair of selectorized (AKA adjustable) dumbbells (like this set of Bowflex dumbbells). “A single pair of dumbbells can replace an entire dumbbell rack, saving you hundreds of dollars—not to mention lots of floor space,” he says.
A bench is another useful piece of equipment for developing overall strength and power, Kelly says, although you could get by without one if you’re short on space.
2. How much weight should I lift?
“You should always lift the heaviest amount of weight that allows you to complete all of your reps and sets for all of the exercises in your workout,” Thieme says.
If you can’t maintain proper form for the last several reps of an exercise, go lighter. If you can breeze through your reps with the last few feeling as comfortable as the first few, go heavier. The key to achieving muscle growth is to find your sweet spot, which in this case means a weight that challenges you without forcing you to sacrifice good form.
3. How many reps and sets should I do for each weightlifting exercise?
First, consider your weightlifting goals. “If you want increased strength, you should do from two to six reps per set. For hypertrophy [muscle growth] do eight to 12 reps. And for endurance, do 15 to 20 reps,” Kelley says.
As for sets, Thieme says it’s important to do multiple sets of each exercise, no matter your goal. Three sets per exercise is generally a good number, but don’t lock yourself into that. As long as you’re doing at least two and not more than five or six, you’re good. And if you want to increase your strength, build bigger muscles, and improve your muscular endurance, regularly vary the number of reps and sets you do.
“Optimal muscle growth occurs when you target both of the major muscle fiber types—I and II—and the best way achieve that is by lifting across the entire rep spectrum,” says Thieme. “Incorporate both heavy weight/low rep sets and light weight/high rep sets in your training program.”
4. Should I focus on one or two body parts a day, or do full-body workouts every time?
Both are effective strategies for packing on muscle. “The key is to work each body part or muscle group at least twice a week,” says Thieme, who suggests alternating between the two training strategies. “Do split training for two or three months, and then do total body training for two or three months.”
Your schedule is also a determining factor, Kelley notes. “If you can only work out two to three times per week, then a total body lifting program may be more efficient,” he says.
5. How many days per week should I lift weights?
How often you lift weights comes down to your goals and schedule as well, Kelley says. (Doe we sound like a broken record yet?)
“The ratio of exercise to recovery days that maximizes results and minimizes injury and overtraining risks depends largely on your current fitness level and the type, intensity, and duration of your workouts,” Thieme says. He recommends lifting a minimum of two days a week a maximum of six days.
6. Do I need to take rest days during a weightlifting program?
Yes! Giving yourself a day off from training is crucial to your weightlifting success. “Lifting days are where you [purposefully] damage muscle tissue,” Kelley says, while “rest/recovery days are when muscles repair and rebuild.” Both days are needed to become stronger.
If you don’t give yourself sufficient recovery time, you’ll sabotage your workout performance and hinder your results. “Training adaptations don’t happen during workouts, they happen between them, making recovery days just as important as training days,” says Thieme. “What people often forget is that, when it comes to exercise, more isn’t always better. You have to give your body the time it needs to respond to the training stimulus that each workout provides.”
How often you should take a recovery day depends on your fitness level, primary exercise type and intensity, age, and sleep habits, but a good rule of thumb is to take one or two rest/recovery days a week.
If you feel energized on your designated rest days, Kelley recommends active recovery activities, which facilitate blood flow to your muscles without overloading them. Yoga and light cardio (e.g., an easy jog, leisurely bike ride, or short hike) are good options. Also, don’t limit warm-up and cool-down activities to warm-ups and cool-downs. Perform dynamic stretching and foam rolling every day, regardless of whether or not you’re working out.
7. How do I avoid a muscle-building plateau?
There are numerous factors that contribute to muscle growth, but the key to achieving consistent gains is to regularly increase the challenge to your muscles, Kelley says. “By increasing the stress on a muscle through a principle called ‘progressive overload,’ you illicit changes in that muscle, including greater size, greater contraction force, and improved motor recruitment,” he explains.
Lifting progressively heavier weights isn’t the only way to do that. “Other ways to achieve progressive overload include decreasing the rest periods between sets, performing more complex exercise variations, and switching up the exercises you do,” says Thieme. “Even changing up your grip (e.g., from underhand to neutral) can increase the challenge to your muscles and trigger fresh growth.”
8. Can I do my weightlifting program and still do cardio and other workouts?
The short answer: yes. But you need to be strategic about it. “If your focus is weightlifting, then you should use cardio as a form of ‘active recovery,'” says Thieme.
If you do a heavy weightlifting session one day, and then go for an easy run the next, you can actually enhance your recovery (and results) from the weightlifting session by boosting blood flow—and the vital nutrient delivery and waste removal services it provides. “But a heavy weightlifting workout followed by a long, hard run or HIIT session the next day can do more harm than good,” says Thieme.
If you don’t allow your body sufficient time to recover between intense workouts, the only thing you’ll achieve is an increased risk of burnout and injury.
9. Will weightlifting make me bulky?
Lifting weights can cause men to become bulky if they focus solely and intensely on bodybuilding or pure strength training, Thieme explains, but this is rarely the case for women. Why? Genetics.
Men typically have a higher percentage of type II muscle fibers, which are bigger and have a higher growth potential than type I fibers. Plus, men produce more testosterone, which is critical for muscle building. “Women do not produce testosterone at high enough levels naturally to get bulky,” Kelley says, even if they’re lifting heavy amounts of weight. That said, a woman can still increase her muscle size through weightlifting if that’s her goal. “Studies also show that while most women can’t build as much muscle as most men, they can achieve similar increases in strength,” says Thieme.
10. How do I make sure I’m lifting with proper form?
Practicing correct weightlifting form is key to preventing injury and getting the results you want. The best way to guarantee good form? “Utilize a fitness professional [like a trainer] until you feel safe and confident in the staple lifts of your program,” Kelley says.
If you’re working out on Beachbody On Demand, pay attention to the trainers as they explain the correct starting stance, movement pattern, and key form points for each exercise, as well as which muscles to engage during the moves. Having a friend observe you can also help you keep your form on point.
11. How long should I follow a weightlifting program?
In general, Kelley recommends maintaining a specific weightlifting program for three to five weeks before you mix it up. “This gives the muscles time to adapt and grow in the current program; then, just as they acclimate, you tweak the program slightly to keep progressing,” he explains.
Perhaps more important than the timeline, however, is paying attention to the way your routine makes you feel. “If you haven’t increased the weight you’re lifting after a few weeks, or if you’ve noticed a significant drop in your motivation, it’s time to switch things up,” Thieme says.
Of course, if you follow a professionally designed program, like you’ll find on Beachbody On Demand, knowing when to switch things up isn’t even a concern. “Such variation is built into the program, eliminating the stress and guesswork for you,” says Thieme.
12. What should I eat before and after a workout to maximize my performance?
Before a weightlifting workout, focus on carbs, which will help top off your energy stores. The key is to choose something that you can digest before you start exercising. A piece of fruit is a good choice if you have 30 minutes or less until you work out. If your workout is still an hour out, our go-to recommendation is a piece of whole grain toast with nut butter.
Post-workout, the most important factor is protein, which can help facilitate muscle growth and speed recovery, Thieme says. Aim for 20 grams of fast-absorbing protein (like whey) within 30 minutes of exercising. A protein supplement such as Beachbody Performance Recover makes that easy.
13. How do I know if my weightlifting program is working?
To get the most accurate and objective measure of progress, Kelley suggests recording your workouts and tracking the numbers. “If you can increase the weight you lift by